Well, maybe not so easy on this halfpipe.
It was sloppy, slushy and full of problems all week. Virtually nobody got a decent practice session in.
Thanks to a trip down the mountain from the crew that grooms the Alpine course, conditions improved. One of the supposed flaws of the pipe — too vertical on the sides — helped Podladtchikov keep the speed he needed to do the Yolo.
He landed it, and even though he only threw five tricks, when most riders were trying six, the judges liked what they saw.
As did Podladtchikov , who spiked his snowboard into the ground and threw his goggles into the crowd. He scored a 94.75.
"He's incredible," American Danny Davis, the 10th-place finisher. "That run on that halfpipe. Wow."
White had come to Russia after a wild winter he spent trying to qualify in two events. He hurt his ankle and shoulder on the way, and changed his schedule on the fly and frequently. The biggest switch-up came when he pulled out of the Olympics' inaugural slopestyle contest the day before qualifiers, saying he didn't want to risk injury there for his historic quest on the halfpipe.
And so, the stakes were set.
Riders all get two chances, and their best score counts.
On White's first run, his attempt at the Yolo ended with a fall that left him sliding down the halfpipe on his backside. Further down the pipe, he tried to finish with another of his double-cork tricks. His board slammed and bent on the lip of the pipe, followed by an awkward and painful fall onto his rear. He was in 11th place after one round.
I-Pod's second run put huge pressure on White. His final runs at the last two Olympics have been nothing more than stress-free victory rides.
Away he went.
On the Yolo, he tucked his hands together to generate torque, then waved one like a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. The form looked good during his three seconds in the air. The landing ended his chances, and whatever small chance he had of winning a wrong-colored medal were wiped away when his knees buckled and nearly hit the snow on the final jump.
When the fourth-place score, a 90.25, came up, he broke into a knowing smile. He gave Podladtchikov a big hug and fatherly mussed his hair. He told him he was happy for him. But the champion had only himself to blame.
"I had a specific run I wanted to land and I didn't put it down," White said. "It's one of the most frustrating things for me. If I land my run and I'm beaten, I'm OK with that. I didn't get that chance tonight, and it happens."